From the time the alarm clock pierces the softness of sleep, we are bombarded with noise. The daily clamor comes not only from people in our lives, but the technology that pings incessantly and indiscriminately. Add our inner barking voice, reminding us to do this, be there, and stop that, and it can feel like a cacophony of crazy.
In the racket of the babbling noise that cocoons the day in blasphemous sound, have we become deaf to the voice of God? “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) So often, we ask God for help, intercession, and mercy, but we never pause long enough in the grace of silence to let him fill the void. It’s impossible to know his will if we can’t distinguish his voice from the commotion that commands our attention.
Jesus doesn’t strike me as a big yeller either. He is the essence of love and love doesn’t compete in the shrill of striving. His message is pretty succinct. “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mathew 22:37-39). Our ability to give and receive love is challenged by the surmounting noise that often has little to do with our souls.
Our souls crave the quiet that is God. Often, when it comes to problem solving and big decisions, we rely on intellect. Reasons, facts, and logic become the trinity we turn to. The noise in our head sputters off a list of pros and cons. We ask friends for advice. We read books to guide us. We troubleshoot and play out different scenarios, alternating the variables, and exposing flaws like a crime-scene detective. Inadvertently, we create more noise for ourselves — obscuring the voice of God with the chatter of our reasoning. The head talks, talks, and talks. It means nothing if the heart is pulled toward something different. Our hearts hold the voice of God. Without quiet, we will never hear the whisper of his wisdom, the lull of his compassion, or peace of an answered prayer.
I always felt unremarkable, which I think I could have been okay with if the world didn’t always send messages that made me feel as if ordinary was an outrage. When I was a kid, the word average meant you were like everyone else. It meant you were okay. You were enough. You fell into the middle and you weren’t worried about being out-twirled at baton practice or made fun of when the metal bar fell on your head.
Those were happy days. If, somewhat unremarkable.
But at some point, and maybe it was when I started paying attention, everything changed. Being average meant you were like the less-than sign used in math – pointing in the wrong direction, open to the mundanity of mediocracy. A losing symbol in a world that equates greatness with worthiness.
Whatever happened to good enough?
I suppose that is why I am so fond of God. While he asks me to be good, he has always believed I am good enough. Of course, I didn’t always know that because I was too distracted with headlines on glossy magazines, books on bettering, and tried and true tips that felt like a tongue twister of tortured suggestions. Read more
Some people believe we should do whatever it takes to make our dreams come true.
That perspective makes me tired. Or maybe I am tired and more likely to pursue sleeping dreams than the do-whatever-it-takes kind. While I would give anything for the people in my life, I can’t say the same for my pursuits.
I don’t lack ambition or commitment either. If anything, I am guilty of skepticism for thinking this mentality is part of the happily-ever-after notion of dreams hawked by Hollywood movie makers. But I am not really that cynical. I love people who are passionate about their goals. I admire the tenacity it takes to get to the proverbial there, to arrive, to live the dream. I love an underdog, a comeback story, and an against-the-odds fight.
I am just not sure I want to be one.
Somewhere between the dream and the reality is the cost of pursuit. Whether in commerce or in life, we all have a price we are willing to pay to get what we want. Not all of us are willing to personify Rocky Balboa for the sake of our dreams no matter how much we admire a steely resolve to persevere and a cool moniker like “Italian Stallion.” Read more
Often, I feel like Queen Elsa in the 2013 Disney film, Frozen, with let it go repeating in my head like a scratched record or a warped mix tape warbling words of what has got to be the greatest three-word sentences in the history of ice queens.
Let it go.
Life can feel like an avalanche of situations outside of our control. Other than our reaction to things, we don’t get a say in much. Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t have much to say, only that we don’t get to decide who listens, cares, or jams earbuds in their earholes when we speak. Despite my awareness of how much I need to let go of Every. Single. Day. I don’t want life to be merely a series of reactions to outside events. I want to be deliberate about what I let go of and what I strive to change.
Long before Elsa retreated to the ice castle, there was American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote the Serenity Prayer. I know he wasn’t royalty, didn’t have a 3-centimeter waist, and couldn’t turn people to ice with the flick of his wrist, but he did write a pretty good prayer. Read more